Early Access Day of Infamy Effortlessly Brings Back the World War 2 Shooter

Never thought I'd be glad to have WW2 back.

I spent a great deal of time with Valve’s long-forgotten and unloved Day of Defeat: Source. A decent number of lazy Sundays were spent darting around 24/7 DoD_Donner servers, and because of that, the game earned a very special place in my heart. It was the healthy mid-point between Counter Strike’s tactical nature and the accessibility of Team Fortress, all wrapped up in a very neat Second World War package.

Sadly, only a year and a bit after launch, Activision dropped Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on the gaming world, and very quickly the World War 2 shooter died off. While there’s been the odd attempt at a revival, nothing’s ever really come close to gripping me the same way Day of Defeat did. At least, not until I laid hands on New World Interactive’s Day of Infamy.

 

There’s already a generous amount on offer as-is

Day of Infamy is the early access follow-up to the massively popular Insurgency. It takes the ruthless, tactical nature of its predecessor and transposes it into numerous different historical battles between the Americans or the British forces and the German Wehrmacht, be it either in a competitive multiplayer mode or co-operative missions against the AI.

While it’s labelled as an early access game, there’s already a generous amount on offer as-is. There’s plenty of maps and game modes for both competitive and cooperative play, from capture-the-point and survival-based goals to patrols, which task teams with reaching a certain location and back with no respawning. The locations on offer are equally varied, with a decent spread of rural and urban warfare to mix things up.

 

What’s special about Day of Infamy is how it balances its tactical gameplay with accessibility. Teamwork is absolutely essential as only a couple of shots is enough to bring you down and cost the squad an ally, and enemies can be hidden behind virtually any corner. Engagements are brief, intense affairs, but they’re not overly complex. Mechanics present in other tactical shooters, such as extreme bullet drop or wind direction, are left firmly at the door, preventing this from being a game about lying around in bushes for eight hours. It’s just your team and your situational awareness against the enemy’s, meaning it doesn’t long to adjust to its brutal challenge.

 

I’ve found myself drawn more towards the eight-player co-op modes more than the competitive, and have been surprised by how much camaraderie there is, even among total strangers. Officers and radio-wearing soldiers band together to call in air support, snipers and riflemen provide cover for each other, and everybody just stays out of the flamethrower’s way while it does its job. A loss never feels like any single person’s fault, and a victory is shared by everyone. I haven’t played a co-op game with strangers and had this much fun since the original Left 4 Dead.

 

It feels as if Day of Infamy’s early access period is more about polish than building the core game. What’s there is fun, and there is a lot of it already. It’s evident a decent amount of polish will be needed before its full launch, though, particularly in the visuals department. There are a few noticeable holes in the environment, visible skyboxes, low-quality character models, and some rare performance issues that can be a rude reminder that it isn’t actually done yet.

There is a ray of hope, though, as the game runs on Source. Source is an engine that’s been in circulation for over a decade now, and one that New World are familiar with from their work on Insurgency. While Source is a bit creaky these days and does give the game somewhat of a dated feel, it also means there’s a decent chance the few minor issues I’ve got can be buffed out before it hits gold.

 

A decent amount of polish will be needed before its full launch

One problem that might need a bit more reworking is how the map designs feel unbalanced against short-range combat. The assault class, which is armed with an SMG with high accuracy drop-off, struggles to hold its own in the numerous large spaces, where they at the mercy of the snipers and rifle-wielding soldiers. Meanwhile, the classes which excel at long-range have options to also be effective in tighter areas with their pistols, making the balance feel skewed in their favour.

 

Day of Infamy is easily one of the best early access games out there at the moment, and I am super excited to see where it goes over the course of its development. Managing to balance mechanical simplicity with tactical play, a drive towards teamwork, and intense encounters the way it does is massively impressive, even if it could do with a bit more visual polish to hide some of that Source Engine dated-ness. With games like Day of Infamy, Battalion 1944 and Days of War on the horizon, it looks like my prayers for a World War 2 game resurgence are finally being answered.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a stronghold to capture.

A copy of this game was provided by the developer for the purposes of this preview.

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

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